August 21st, 2012

After “legitimate” rape comes “a little good” & necessary abuse at work


We always try to be polite so as to not offend. That’s what we were taught, right? But that rulebook is for suckers and victims. There is a group of mean-spirited S.O.B.s who care not one whit what they say. They speak, revealing their ignorant, science-loathing, compassionless minds, and they are never forced to give up their jobs. Lately, many are elected representatives of the People. Example — U.S. Congressman Todd Akin.

The American media gave saturated coverage (all networks, all day long on Aug 20) to the ridiculous statements by Akin, an old white guy who is proud of his legislative work — to prohibit all abortions, even in cases of rape. [Note: Co-sponsor of multiple Akin-like bills (e.g., HR 3) — V.P. candidate Paul Ryan.]

The headline-grabbing line from an Akin TV appearance was his use of the adjective “legitimate” in front of rape. That implies that there is good rape and bad rape. Ask any woman about that.

Only geezers and mean-spirited young men in denial about their misogyny seem to believe some junk theory that the rape victim’s body rejects sperm from an assailant (knowing that it wasn’t her pappy’s?). Over 32,000 women get pregnant from rape each year in our rape-prone culture. [Did you know that anthropologist P. Sanday concludes that 47% of cultures in the world are free of rape?] Never mind, facts do not inform Akin and his ilk.

It is a national disgrace that Akin sits on the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology. He is an engineer by training, but his anti-woman ideology trumps a presumed propensity toward clear thinking or an appreciation of science over anecdotal tales only. The source of his “evidence” that pregnancy from rape is nearly impossible came from talking to “a doctor.” Hmm.

Somehow this myth about all-knowing sperm has been circulating for decades among those men wishing to stop medical abortions. The NY Times tracked the history of repeating this malicious lie as did Rachel Maddow. Paradoxically, Akin has 6 children, two of whom are clearly daughters, and 8 grandchildren, most likely one of whom is a girl.

What’s this got to do with bullying? Plenty. The process of devaluing rape victims and refusing to help them in their time of need is analogous to how bullied targets are discounted and disregarded by employers (and most of society).

Targets often describe their experience as traumatizing (30% suffer PTSD according to the latest WBI study). Scientists at the Bergen Bullying Research Group, led by Stale Einarsen, a WBI friend, conducted a study comparing the severity of different traumatizing life events. The group to which bullied targets compared most closely were rape victims.

Jeff Tannebaum, a Littler Mendelson corporate attorney, was quoted in an article about bullying in the San Francisco Business Journal (1998) that every now and then workers “needed a little good bullying” to motivate them. Following this logic, children learn better after a strong whack on their rears; humiliation teaches humility; and show intimidation first is the best way to start relationships with unknown coworkers.

Corporate justification for bullying is the unbridled exercise of managerial control. In the Australian financial press, a corporate attorney wrote that their present and future anti-bullying laws for the workplace are unnecessary. Instead, he proposed, “Let us reset the rules at the workplace so that staff understand that their role is to facilitate the workplace and not to frustrate managerial prerogative.” Stop bullying the managers was the author’s warning. We acknowledge that bullying up the hierarchy does occur, in about 10% of cases according to our earliest national survey.

So, when we stop complaining about abuses of power in our workplaces, abandon the prospect of dignified treatment, make salary concessions until minimum wage is the only wage, and comply with all directives to stay employed (mere survival by any other name), we will be the workforce employers want. Bullying by management will be seen as inevitable and necessary.

Truth is, bullying is now described by employer apologists as inevitable. It’s considered an essential part of human nature that must find expression or kill the person who attempts to contain these natural drives. Yes, aggression is a part of the human condition. But so is advanced cortical development. Our brains can be trained to overcome destructive impulses.

There is clearly a lack of impulse control on display nearly daily in American culture. Through constant exposure we observer-citizens become de-sensititized. We lose the ability to be shocked by outrageousness anymore. Rape isn’t rape to some men; it isn’t all bad (“legitimate” or “forcible”), some version of it must be good. This is craziness!

Similarly, in these tough economic times, voices of adversely affected employees are silenced. “Economic harm” is applied only to employers. They are granted unconditional credibility. CEOs must know what they are doing (because their compensation is so obscenely high?). The fact is that corporations lie. They lie about the safety of their products, the hours their workers work, the hiding of billions of dollars offshore to avoid U.S. taxes, and why they rely on foreign workers to replace Americans.

For 15 years, we have been reporting what happens in the trenches far from the media spotlight. It’s America’s dirty little secret. The media have grown more afraid to expose bullying over the years. They don’t want to explode any myths about corporations being beneficent and good for people.

At WBI, our anti-abuse/anti-bullying campaign must also fight to prevent the hardening of the American heart. We grow coarser when miscreants can attack rape victims publicly and not be held accountable. Watch to see what long-term career consequences, if any, befall Akin.

Our society becomes incredibly less bearable, less tolerant and less civil when bullying can be considered a necessary part of doing business, inevitable and not worth eradicating.

Abuse has no justifiable place in a humane and healthy workplace.

Help us help those who need it and stop rationalizing indefensible bullying.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 at 1:34 pm and is filed under Commentary by G. Namie, The New America. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.



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